Fireworks bill heading to governor

Local legislator carries Senate fireworks bill

by T.W. Budig
ECM Capitol reporter

The Republican Senate on Tuesday, April 24, passed a fireworks bill allowing for more powerful fireworks as well aerial fireworks such as bottle rockets.

The bill was an amended version passed yesterday by the Republican House.

Sen. Michael Jungbauer, R-East Bethel, talks to Sen. Pam Wolf, R-Spring Lake Park, on the Senate floor today (April 24) after seeing his fireworks bill pass the Senate. (Photo by T.W. Budig)

“We’re trying to solve the problems (with the bill),” said Sen. Michael Jungbauer, R-East Bethel, before watching his bill pass the Senate.

Debate in the Republican House yesterday was sharp debate.

In trying to answer concerns about the legislation, Rep. John Kriesel, R-Cottage Grove, House bill author, restricted the sale of more powerful fireworks from June 1 to July 7.

Rep. Joe Atkins, DFL-Inver Grove Heights, offered amendments to the bill, though later withdrawing them.

“If you vote ‘No,’ you’re saying drunk folks can supervise kids firing off fireworks,” said Atkins of one amendment, relating how as child he enjoyed the fireworks at a family relation’s home until a fire.

“We can probably loosen the restrictions up a little bit,” said Rep. Ryan Winkler, DFL-Golden Valley, of state law pertaining to fireworks.

But Winkler warned of  reckless endangerment of children by drunken adults overseeing the use of fireworks.

Republicans countered by arguing Democrats simply refused to let Minnesotans get out from under the thumb of government.

“This namby-pamby nanny state attitude has to stop,” Rep. Pat Garofalo, R-Farmington.

Anyone is the southern metro, said Garofalo, already knows the best fireworks displays are put on by the residents, not the local municipalities.

“Can’t you really let Minnesotans have a little fun?” asked Rep. Torrey Westrom, R-Elbow Lake.

For his part, Jungbauer, who considers the fireworks bill one of his last — Jungbauer lost his Republican endorsement to Sen. Michelle Benson, R-Ham Lake, in a redistricting match up — explained the push for more liberal state fireworks laws has been blocked by special interest groups.

On the Senate floor, Jungbauer explained  a handful of lobbyists representing Wisconsin firework interests have been working against the bill.

Sure, there will be injuries because of fireworks, Jungbauer concluded in a press release.

“I’m sure there will, just as people will be injured on trampolines, bicycles, skateboards, roller blades, and other forms of recreation which we trust Minnesotans with,” he said.

Democratic Gov. Mark Dayton recently indicated that he had not yet made up his mind on the fireworks bill.